If you asked me nine months ago how I would go about ministry in my new assignment in Belize, developing a food pantry would not have been on the list in my first year. But my list was not the same as God’s list.
In 2015, God called me, my wife Barbra, and our three children (now we have four) to go from Zambia (Africa) to Brazil (South America), an unfamiliar land where we had no contacts. We had no idea of the language, the culture, the people or anything at all. Yet we packed up and left all we knew because we believed God called us there.
From a biblical perspective, the reality is that missionaries don’t necessarily choose to go, rather God chooses them and takes them there. My family and I did not have it easy at first. Once we learned Portuguese, we still had to learn the culture and customs of the Brazilian people.
As missionaries, no matter the expertise in our particular area of ministry, we need to understand that God can choose to use anyone and anything, but you will know when God chooses you. Following God, our role is to be humble in our service. We look to the example of Jesus Christ and how our Christian faith informs our worldview on culture. We need to grow in our Christian faith and our walk as missionaries.
Barbra and I chose to open ourselves to learning new cultures, peoples, traditions, languages and of course, many new things. In 2019, after we settled in and Brazil began to feel like home, we discovered that God had another list of things for us to do in Central America, about 3,000 miles northwest of where we had been in Brazil.
We’ve served in Belize for a little over a year now, where I pastor two congregations for the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas and work on spiritual formation in two Methodist schools. But within eight months of our transition to Belize, the COVID-19 pandemic entered Central America and changed everything we knew about how to do ministry. And we learned a little more about God’s list for us in Belize.
Although the two congregations we serve, one in Corozal and one in Libertad, have few financial resources, we decided to start a pantry ministry that provides groceries to 15 families once a month. We’ve maintained this ministry since March 2020. In love and compassion, we could do no less, and as time progresses, we marvel at how God used the COVID-19 situation as a way to connect us to our community, reaching beyond the walls of the churches.
Through this monthly assistance, which is provided mostly to the Corozal community and not necessarily to our congregants, we have built strong relationships – not only with the beneficiaries, but also with the local municipality and law enforcement as the congregations foster the health and safety of our community.
We have learned again to be open to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and allow God to use us, as God can use anyone and anything for God’s glory.
The Rev. Charles Mulemenaserves as a pastor for two congregations in Belize, Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the Americas, Corozal Methodist Church and Libertad Methodist Church, which are about seven miles apart. He also directs spiritual formation for the Methodist Schools in the Corozal and Libertad communities.